Pohnpei, Federated States of the Micronesia (August 23, 2017)– The Pacific Islands Forum Chair, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), His Excellency Peter Christian received a final briefing from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor on Friday, August 18.
Amongst other themes discussed, H.E President Christian underlined the importance of speaking with one voice on regional issues. Samoa takes over the chairmanship of the Forum as hosts of the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting from September 4th to 8th in Apia.
As the outgoing Chair of the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum, H.E President Christian will however remain an integral part of the Pacific Islands Forum for the next year, as one of the Forum Troika Leaders, an arrangement that includes the past, present and incoming Forum chair.
H.E President Christian and Dame Meg discussed socio-economic development and progress, challenges and success stories that Pacific Island Forum members have experienced in 2017.
H.E President Christian and Dame Meg agreed that the lessons gleaned from the experience of the Regional Mission Assistance to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) was invaluable and an excellent example of the capacity, including human resources, of Pacific Islands Forum members for appropriate regional intervention.
The potential for expanding the existing Biketawa Declaration to be more inclusive and practical in particular in the area of disaster relief was emphasised; the Biketawa Declaration is the framework under which RAMSI was initiated.
H.E President Christian spoke of socio-economic and related development issues facing the region. H.E President Christian emphasised the issue of transportation, particularly by air which has been a constant barrier to their attempts to strengthen the country’s private sector and tourism industry.
“We have development plans and we would like to take advantage of our environment in relation to tourism but there is a major issue with access, as would be common for other smaller island states in the Pacific,” H.E President Christian said.
Dame Meg was accompanied by the Chief Executive Officer of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) Chris Cocker; SPTO is one of the CROP (Council of Regional Organizations in the Pacific) agencies.
On the upcoming 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in Samoa, Dame Meg discussed the underlying theme of the upcoming Forum as chosen by Samoa: The Blue Pacific: Our Sea of Islands – Our Security through Sustainable Development, Management and Conservation.
“The Blue Pacific is a narrative that emphasises our common identity, and that identity is based on we the people of the Pacific belonging to one Ocean Continent. In accepting this collective identity, it emphasises how we utilise and conserve our resources for the benefit of our people,” Dame Meg said.
Dame Meg also met with College of Micronesia students in an informal setting of a talanoa session. Students were invited to identify five development areas they would prioritise for Pacific Islands Forum Leaders. Students listed Food Security, Education, Health, Gender Equality and Violence and Climate Change. Enquiries can sent to firstname.lastname@example.org